Mud-fight and pol­i­tics of women’s power

At­tack by Suba North MP Mil­lie Od­hi­ambo on Homa Bay woman Rep Gla­dys Wanga has shown the un­der­belly of women’s quest for lead­er­ship po­si­tions

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - SUNDAY REVIEW - BY JUSTUS OCHIENG

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Arare at­tack by Suba North MP Mil­lie Od­hi­ambo on Homa Bay Woman Rep­re­sen­ta­tive Gla­dys Wanga early in the week has raised ques­tions about the sin­cer­ity of women politi­cians in root­ing for more lead­er­ship po­si­tions as the de­bate on the two-thirds Gen­der Bill rages on.

Ms Od­hi­ambo — pop­u­larly known to her sup­port­ers as “millo gesa gesa” — is against the county MP’S quest to be­come the next Homa Bay gover­nor. It is not clear whether Ms Od­hi­ambo is also eye­ing the po­si­tion, cur­rently held by for­mer Marie Stopes Kenya coun­try di­rec­tor Cyprian Awiti.

It is not lost on keen ob­servers that Homa Bay vot­ers are await­ing a Supreme Court rul­ing to de­ter­mine whether Mr Awiti will re­tain his seat or face a by-elec­tion fol­low­ing a pe­ti­tion filed by for­mer MP Oyugi Mag­wanga chal­leng­ing his elec­tion.

Both the High Court and the Court of Ap­peal have ruled in favour of a by-elec­tion on grounds that the Homa Bay gu­ber­na­to­rial elec­tion was marred with se­ri­ous ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties.

It is, there­fore, not hard to re­late the ver­bal cat­fights be­tween the two gra­cious ladies to the sup­pos­edly “im­mi­nent” Homa Bay by-elec­tion.

The Suba North MP has been very hard on Ms Wanga on so­cial me­dia over the past cou­ple of weeks, even though the woman rep­re­sen­ta­tive has cho­sen not to re­spond to her claims di­rectly.

Ms Od­hi­ambo has ac­cused Ms Wanga of do­ing lit­tle with the Na­tional Gov­ern­ment Af­fir­ma­tive Ac­tion Fund and does not merit to be a gover­nor.

“Other women reps have built res­cue cen­tres, child pro­tec­tion cen­tres and supplied

wa­ter to schools. I will not sup­port you (Wanga) merely be­cause you are a woman,” Ms Od­hi­ambo stated in one of her posts on her Face­book page.

Ms Od­hi­ambo went on: “I sup­port women lead­er­ship in gen­eral. I will not, how­ever, sup­port in­ef­fec­tive and ex­ploita­tive lead­er­ship, even by a woman. Gla­dys would be the worst mis­take Homa Bay would make for choice of gover­nor.”

“Her style of lead­er­ship is abra­sive, di­vi­sive and ma­nip­u­la­tive. I hereby de­clare you do not have my sup­port,” she added.

How ironic! Dur­ing the last Par­lia­ment, the two leg­is­la­tors gained no­to­ri­ety for be­ing com­bat­ive and abra­sive in­side and out­au­gust side the house.

Fo r ex­am­ple,

dur­ing the ac­ri­mo­nious de­bate to pass the con­tro­ver­sial Se­cu­rity Laws (Amend­ment) Bill in De­cem­ber 2014, Ms Wanga was caught on cam­era splash­ing wa­ter on Deputy Speaker Joyce La­boso in an at­tempt to stop the third read­ing of the Bill.

Ms La­boso, now the Gover­nor of Bomet County, later said Ms Wanga apol­o­gised to her.

Dur­ing the melee in Par­lia­ment on that Thurs­day af­ter­noon of De­cem­ber 19, 2014, Ms Od­hi­ambo re­moved her un­der­wear in the hal­lowed cham­bers of Par­lia­ment to protest an al­leged sex­ual as­sault by Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria.

“When they tried to un­dress me I com­pleted the process for them … I can­not and will not be in­tim­i­dated us­ing my sex­u­al­ity,” she posted on her Face­book page.

Mr Kuria de­nied Ms Od­hi­ambo’s claim.

So in mat­ters deco­rum, Ms Od­hi­ambo and Ms Wanga are pretty much birds of the same feather.

When Sun­day Na­tion reached Ms Wanga over the al­le­ga­tions lev­elled against her by Ms Od­hi­ambo, she was not will­ing to en­gage in the de­bate or­ches­trated by her friend­turn-foe.

“I do not want to get into that de­bate. Just ig­nore it. I am not in­ter­ested in it,” she said over the phone.

Yes­ter­day, Or­ange Demo­cratic Move­ment na­tional chair­man John Mbadi said the party would equally not be drawn into the pol­i­tics of the two lead­ers, terming their clashes as ‘petty po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences’.

“If some­one ac­cuses another on grounds of de­vel­op­ment, it is upon the pub­lic to judge be­cause de­vel­op­ment can be seen on the ground. So you can­not play pol­i­tics of pro­pa­ganda us­ing de­vel­op­ment,” added the Suba South MP.

For­mer Karachuonyo par­lia­men­tary as­pi­rant Anderson Ojwang’ told Ms Wanga and Ms Od­hi­ambo to fo­cus on de­vel­op­ment. “They are em­bar­rass­ing the wom­en­folk and could make the elec­torate from Homa Bay stop vot­ing women to lead­er­ship po­si­tions,” he said.

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